Atheist Mega-Churches? Say It Ain’t So

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According to Yahoo News, atheist mega-churches are popping up around the world. The article only focuses on one and it’s in LA. I live in the LA area and I’ve never heard of it, nor have I heard of the people who ran it, BUT Yahoo is telling me it’s a thing, so the question is would I ever go? Probably not. They lost me at the singing part of the service. It just seems weird to sing random songs for no real reason, unless the reason is purely to mock church…then go on with your bad self. But I couldn’t do that pointless faux worship session more than once.

Sexism in the Atheist boys’ club

Anyone who doesn’t know that atheism is a dick-only club is about to find out that it nearly exclusively caters to penis. Women are talking about it and women I’ve been talking to have been wondering why they aren’t included in the atheist dialogue or why there aren’t leaders in the atheist community that look like them. The blunt answer-you’ve got the 4 Horsemen (4 Horsemen is a name for the supposed atheist leaders: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, the late Chris Hitchens and Daniel Dennett) and some of them are rumored to be sexist.

Since when is the atheist community a) so fucking fundamentalist and b) such a little dick club? They took the bros before hoes thing way too seriously.

I am only recently an “out” atheist, so I’m incredibly new to this community. But immediately it sounded a little tired–science is the only argument against why there’s no God? Yawn. Science is extremely important and epidemiology is one of the most fascinating subjects I’ve ever stumbled upon. But, there seemed to be a great deal lacking in the atheist/anti-theist discussions. Then, I figured out why: men with limited expertise were running the show and almost exclusively men with a background in science, which seemed odd to me because I know a great deal of atheist women with better messages than just “evolution is cool”. On another note, there have been a lot of criticisms of the atheist community being too fundamentalist.

So, confused, I sat back and watched. Then, in May of this year, I made a friend in the Flagstaff (AZ) Freethinkers Group, Brian Wallace. He asked me to speak at his group upon publication of my book, which is about my life in a cult. Then, he proceeded to hit on me. This wasn’t totally weird…until it turned weird. It quickly became predatory and really disturbing. He said his girlfriend (Serah Blain?) wanted him to meet a woman and have sex with her. He didn’t even know if he wanted to (lies). They were in an open relationship, he tells me later. Then, he said she was interested in bringing that woman (presumably me) into a threesome in a hotel at the upcoming atheist convention (which I think was this one). What was weird wasn’t that I was asked to be in a threesome. That’s so three years ago, though, and I’m over it. What was weird was the amount of charm and lies this dude Brian piled up just to convince me to sleep with him and his girlfriend.

A month later, I realize exactly why this fucks with my head still. Brian was a sexual predator–manipulating and lying to get in the sack with a girl looking for love. There wasn’t any honesty in the dialogue. It was pure sociopathic manipulation. My real issue, though is that these people, Brian and Serah, are leaders in the atheist/freethinking community. I was even friends with Serah on Facebook and that’s where I think she got the idea to target me. Yes, target.

Later, I realized the men-run (read: all) atheist conventions have been told for years that sexual harassment has been happening and have not done a damn thing to implement a sexual harassment policy? How can you when Dick-y Dawkins is sexist and thinks women should just get “thick skin” and suck a dick it up. Oh, PLEASE don’t tell me to suck it up. I don’t care if you think you run the world, Dawkins. That’s so 1950’s you remind me of the Catholic Church with that type of rhetoric.

At some point in between all this, I join The Clergy Project, where I get interviewed for an hour, but sadly, the interview consisted of bragging about self. Cool story bro. Yawn. You’re running up my phone bill for this? I’ve got shit to do and I’m trying to join a community here, and you’re telling me how awesome you are. Weird. My response to him: “Where are all the women in the atheist community?” Stutter…”Um, oh, yeah.” I’m disappointed.

My atheist role models aren’t necessarily outright atheist, but they stand for human rights issues, secularism, and take an active role in stopping the abuse of the church. Marci A. Hamilton and Anne Rice…these women are passionate about putting their reputation on the line while fighting the Church policy of covering up hatred and abuse. They’re the ones who are admirable in my opinion. All these other boys really don’t do it for me. They’re just not my style and quite frankly, I’m over the frat party mentality (a view of nipples if you’re an atheist). I think I just puked in my mouth.

Q & A: Why Did You Lose Your Faith

The past few days have brought on a surge of new inquiries about why I lost my faith in God. Some people wonder How could you love Jesus so passionately and with such zeal and not love him today? Some people call me to tell me they’re praying for me, or if I have a bad day or go through a surge of anger, they pray for me.

To be fair, I always prayed for people. But by always I mean a span in my life that lasted about 10 years or less. From age 15, when a very catastrophic family event occurred, to 25 when another catastrophic even occurred, I prayed. I believed. I loved God.

I really did love God and now I truly do not believe he exists. I am what’s called an antitheist which is actually one step further than atheism, if you will. Christopher Hitchens wrote, “I’m not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful.” This is closer to what I believe than atheism. Religious belief and churches are harmful.

In case you’re not following, theism is the belief that at least one god exists. I find that idea not just unrealistic, but dangerous. I think it’s wrong.

Yes, I think I was wrong for 10 years. But religion is a very powerful force. There’s the pull of group thinking, peer pressure, societal pressures and essentially the false confidence in “knowing the truth.” It’s very appealing.

Atheism was not appealing to me. For years I assumed atheists were hateful and doomed. Then, I started thinking for myself (That’s not an insult. There’s no other way to say it.), discarded all my Jesus beliefs and attempted to reevaluate them one by one.

I asked myself questions:

  1. Where did I first hear this belief? Was I born thinking this way?
  2. What did my first experiences in church influence me to think and do?
  3. How did my desire for a “perfect family life” (my childhood was very dysfunctional) make religion appealing?
  4. At age 15, when first entering church, I doubted the Bible. Where did I lose my ability to doubt? Who influenced me to do so?

These questions were some of the beginnings of what you see now. But that’s been several years, and many other questions have followed.

If I ask you to question and doubt and you’re still very religious, it falls on deaf ears. To doubt, as I was taught at 15, means you do not have faith.

But is that so? Perhaps that’s not true with liberal or progressive Christians, but in fundamentalist or evangelical circles, it’s true.

So, if I wanted to doubt, how could I claim to be a Christian? I couldn’t.

Many people I know have a LOT of questions for me. I’d like to give you the opportunity to ask me anything about why I lost my faith.

Put your questions in the comments or you can email me at mycultlife@gmail.com.